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Young role-model triumphs despite disability

26 January 2011 No Comment

In 2005, after identifying the need for leadership in our country, the Sutherland School of Leadership was initiated.

This initiative, aimed at developing leaders for the future, adopted the leadership principles advocated by Dr John Maxwell, and created a practical course that develops participants over a period of four years.

Sutherland High School is the only school in the country to present such an extensive leadership development programme.

Participants experience a variety of camps, tours and courses. The camps are extremely tough, and demands tremendous commitment and dedication to be successfully completed.

Pupils who complete the full programme earn the right to wear a special Red Blazer in their Grade 12 year.

The culmination of the programme, the Grade 12 Desert Walk, where pupils hike 64 kilometres over 4 days, climbing 1800 metres from the foot of the Tugela falls (the second highest waterfall in the world) to the top of Mount Aux-Sources (the source of the Tugela river) and down again.

Jason Schoeman, a seventeen-year-old suffering from cerebral palsy, completed this event during December 2009.

In 2007 Jason decided to participate in the Red Blazer programme, and has since completed numerous events.

His first Desert Walk, in 2008, was a reality check, as his hip gave in after 26 kilometres of the 34 kilometre walk.

However, in the spirit of the Desert Walk, which does not allow giving up, his teammates carried him the final 8 kilometres.

Since then, Jason has trained tirelessly to ensure that his body does not fail him or his team again.

He recently completed the Mozambique Survival week, during which he had to hike 28 kilometres along the beach in 5 hours.

Jason has strength of will and spirit that the staff of Sutherland High School have not encountered in another human being.

He has fulfilled all the requirements for the Red Blazer regardless of his disability although he does not believe he is disabled.

The completion of the Grade 12 Desert Walk signified a huge triumph of the human spirit.

In his matric year, Jason had one more hurdle to overcome – the final examinations – which he has done with a distinction in Life Orientation.

He, along with 221 peers, focused on his studies, to ensure that his high school career ended on a high note.

In addition to his school-based achievements, Jason excelled in sport and was selected to represent South Africa at the Paralympics where he proudly won two silver medals.

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